A Tale of Two Brands

JetBlue vs. United

The difference was stark.
So much so that I am impelled to capture it for others.
Three weeks ago, I am sick on a Friday when I am supposed to fly to Charlotte on a business trip.
So I call United, and get its call center. Based on the noise in the background, it was a large call center and – based on the accents of the guy helping me and the people in the background (all of whom I could hear) – they were in a country other than the United States (not an issue; just an observation).
Me: “I apologize, but I have a flight later today with you guys and I am sick, so it would not be smart for me to fly.”
UAL: “I’m so sorry, sir; we will cancel you from the flight. However, if you cancel, we will need to charge you a change fee and you will have to pay the fare difference when you do re-book.”
Me: “Yes, I assumed that. I want to reschedule in two weeks. The same flights please.”
UAL: “Oh. Let me check on that with my supervisor.”
UAL: “Sir, I must tell you that you will have to pay the $200 change fee and the difference in fares. Can I have your credit card please? And sir, if you will get us a note from your doctor, we can refund the change fee.”
Flight changed…credit card charged…although the process took 47 minutes.
Yesterday, I was supposed to fly to Florida on JetBlue.
My wife is sick (this ugly flu). I had to postpone. But I have to be there tomorrow for an event.
So I call JetBlue. Don’t get a call center. Rather, I get a woman, who – if my accent recognition is somewhat accurate, is sitting in a quiet place somewhere between Pennsylvania and Colorado.
Me: “Hi, I am scheduled to fly tomorrow on you guys to Florida, but my wife is sick and I can’t leave tomorrow.”
JB: “I’m so sorry to hear about your wife. How can I help?”
Me: “I need to postpone by a day. I am hoping she starts feeling better and I can get down there for a meeting.”
JB: “Let’s see how I can help.”
She finds comparable flights.
Me: “Great; thank you. Let’s book them.”
JB: “Great. Sir, we’re going to waive the change fee as your wife is sick. And – just so you know – if you take a flight 10 minutes earlier to Fort Lauderdale instead of West Palm, that flight is $80 cheaper.”
Flights cancelled and re-booked.
Me: “Thank you so much. That’s great. I’ll go to Fort Lauderdale.”
JB: “Happy to help Mr. Zito. Thank you for flying JetBlue. And I hope your wife feels better soon.”
Duration of call: 6 minutes.
So which brand would you prefer?
Similar issue. Very different experience.
I know how I’m flying from now on.
(And the WiFi is free.)

Posted by Bob Zito on 04/05/2019